With the long and often stressful process of shopping, spending, and planning for Christmas, it's easy to forget that the new year is lurking right around the corner. With all of our focus on Christmas, who has time to plan an elaborate New Year's celebration? Even if some of us only start thinking about New Year's Eve once Christmas has finally passed us by, it's not too late to plan a small, pleasant gathering. Hosting a cozy New Year's gathering at your home can be a great way to relax and catch up with friends who you missed at Christmas. With a little ingenuity and help from your guests, you can plan a memorable New Year's Eve in no time.
Size MattersOnce you've decided that you want to host your own get-together, don't hesitate to start calling and inviting your guests. First, set a few limits for yourself. You probably won't want to have too large a gathering, so set a limit on the number of guests you can reasonably host. Make a list including your closer friends and family members. Take into consideration how far away people live and how likely they will be to show up. Let them know that it is a fairly casual party. If you'd like to decrease your own burden a bit, make it a "potluck" party, and politely request that your guests bring along some kind of snack or dessert. Chances are they will be happy to help you out. Make their work easier by first making a list of the foods and snacks you need for the party, and what you've got covered yourself, so you don't have people bringing too much of the same thing (i.e. 10 bags of chips and no cookies.)
Safety FirstAs a host you want to be considerate of your guests' needs. You also have a certain responsibility for your guests. Most New Year's Eve parties include the consumption of alcohol and staying up late. Neither of these factors mixes well with driving. The roads are a dangerous place on New Year's Eve, even if your guests are just driving across town. You should offer your guests the option of sleeping over at your house. For certain guests that may have a longer distance to drive, the offer will be greatly appreciated. Tell people ahead of time they are welcome to stay over. Even if you do not have the extra bedspace for everyone, you can make use of couches, and tell people to bring sleeping bags and pillows. If you really don't have the space or simply aren't willing to have guests stay over, then reconsider inviting people who will have to come from a distance. You can also look out for the safety of your guests by cutting off the alcohol supply by a certain hour; say, no later than the official midnight toast. You can brew coffee for your guests to wake them up for their ride home, but remember that caffeine is no substitute for sobriety. Most importantly, just keep your eye on people. You can't be responsible for everyone, but your concern and judgement will help guests to remain safe.
A Family Oriented CelebrationIf you haven't got a family of your own, chances are that you've got friends with children. Your New Year's celebration should of course include the kids; just think of the inconvenience of trying to find a babysitter on New Year's Eve. Plus it's a perfect night for togetherness. You can have the kids over and still have a relaxed party that allows you some time alone with the grown-ups. Here are some tips:
- Set up a "kids' area" for the children to hang out and play separately from the adults. A good place is a child's bedroom or playroom, a spare bedroom, or furnished basement. Keep in mind the kids' ages, and how much supervision they will need.
- Set up a TV and VCR in the room and rent some movies that the kids will love.
- If you've got a video game system, set that up too and supply video games for the kids to play.
- Set up a table for the room for playing cards and board games, as well as making arts and craft projects. Supply the games, along with construction paper, scissors, stencils, markers, colored pencils, glue, and other supplies for kids to do their own crafts.
- Make small goody bags for each of the kids, including any left over Christmas candy you have, and party favors like kazoos and noisemakers.
- Make sure to have plenty of kid-friendly food and drinks.
Fun and ActivitiesOf course the best part of the evening will be spending time together with your friends and talking. Here are suggestions for fun and conversation that allow you to reflect on the past year, as well as look forward to what the future holds. Both adults and kids will enjoy these easy-to-plan activities:
- Have everyone write down a prediction for the next year on a piece of paper, fold it up, put it in a box, and shuffle. Then have everyone randomly pick a prediction from the box and read it off to everyone. The results can be very amusing. Works great if you make this a yearly tradition, and instead of reading off the predictions that night, you save them for next year, and read last year's. You can start the tradition this year; make two boxes and have everyone write two predictions, one to be read off that night, and one to be saved for next year.
- The last night of the year is a great time to look back and reflect. A nice way to make your memories from your past year last is to make a memory book, involving all of your guests. Have each person at the party make their own page, where they write down their favorite memories from the year and draw sketches or paste down pictures, etc. Punch holes in each page and put them all together in a binder. After this is complete, you can pass the book around the party for all to enjoy. Obviously there are many variations on this idea. If you'd rather each person have something they can take away with them, follow a similar idea, except have each person make their own booklet to pass around to everyone.
- Ideas for striking up interesting conversation that involves everyone: have everyone go around and say what they are thankful for in this past year. What are their wishes and expectations for the new year? What are their New Year's resolutions? Have everyone tell about favorite anecdote from the past year.
- Have everyone come up with a list of things they'd like to accomplish in the upcoming year, and realistically can: for instance, books to read, places to visit, spaces to clean, junk to get rid of, activities to get involved in, and ways to better themselves. People reading off their lists might inspire others. It will also help people stay productive if they keep their list for the year, post it up on the refrigerator, and check things off as they get accomplished.
- Cards and board games are perfect party staples for all ages. Have a deck of cards and selection of games ready for your guests.
- Gather everyone together at some point in the night to take a group photo, which you can later make multiple prints of to send to everyone at the party. Also be sure to have your camera and lots of film ready to take plenty of party pictures. Get doubles to send along to your guests with the group photo.
If you have your guests help you out by bringing snacks, most of your work will be cut out for you when it comes to food for your party. Remember that you are keeping this party simple, and it's best to go with just appetizers, snacks, and desserts. Make a list and keep track of what you need and who is bringing what. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- In keeping with the relaxed nature of your party, you're not going to want to have to worry about washing massive amounts of dishes afterwards. Buy paper plates and plastic utensils to make things easier on yourself.
- Frozen appetizers that can be quickly heated up are perfect and come in wide selections.
- Snack staples include chips, nuts, pretzels, dips, salsa, bread, cheese, crackers, vegetables, etc.
- Sweets that will be popular include cookies, brownies, cupcakes, etc. You can buy these items already made, or quickly make baked treats with ready-to-bake dough or mix.
- It's a nice idea to have a make-your-own ice cream sundae station for later on in the evening. Have ready a few ice cream flavors, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, nuts, and whipped cream. This will be a great hit with the kids.
- Now's a good chance to get rid of all that extra Christmas candy you've got lying around. Put your chocolates and candy canes in bowls around the house for people to snack on.
- It's a great idea to have coffee and tea ready throughout the night for staying up late and keeping warm. Hot chocolate is a good idea too.
- It's New Year's Eve, so of course you're going to want to have a bottle or two of nice champagne ready. Have nice glasses ready for the adults, with wine glass keys for distinguishing glasses from each other. Break out the champagne for a midnight toast.
- For the non-drinkers and kids, you can have a nonalcoholic, sparkling cider ready so they can participate in the toast too.
- Also keep plenty of other beverages available: soft drinks, fruit juice, milk, and water.
Decorating and PreparingYou don't have to go over the top decorating, but you can give your home some easy, quick touches that will make it perfect for a party with New Year's spirit.
- Make plenty of space for your guests. Create as much space in your home as you can by moving around furniture to create open space. Also bring out any extra chairs or stools you may have stored away in other parts of your home.
- Lighting is key to setting just the right atmosphere in your home, and to give it a magical, special presence. Arrange lots of candles around the party space. Just make sure that they do not form a hazard; do not put them near curtains, or anywhere they can easily be knocked or accidentally reached over. Use special caution with kids around, placing candles out of their reach.
- Small votive candles will look great on tables. Arrange candles in many different colors. For more special lighting options, pull out any candelabras and other tiered multiple candle holders you might have lying around. Arrange a floating candle display as a centerpiece for a table.
- Take advantage of light dimmers on overhead fixtures or lamps, turning down the lights a bit for atmosphere.
- You can use any extra Christmas lights you have creatively, hanging colorful lights from walls and wrapping them around pillars, doors, and stair-handles, or even under glass tables.
- Chances are you still have your Christmas decorations up. This is great for your party. Keep your tree lighted up throughout the party.
- Poinsettias are particularly nice to display around your home and are also good as table centerpieces. Buy some more on sale after Christmas and spread them around your house.
- Use a long table, such as your dining room table, as the main place to set up all the food, snacks, desserts, disposable plates and bowls, utensils, and napkins. Arrange the snacks and desserts in nice bowls and plates. Dress up the table with a nice tablecloth in colors that capture the winter season while not being overly Christmassy; silvers, whites, golds, reds and blues. You can sprinkle confetti around on the table for an extra touch. Silver snowflake and stars confetti will look great with the tablecloth.
- Fill a large glass bowl or vase with candy canes and shiny ribbon for a nice centerpiece.
- What would be a party without music? Get together a selection of music you think would be good for the party and make your own CD mixes. Just don't put on any Christmas music. Do have your favorite rendition of Auld Lang Syne ready however.
- Again, kids will love cheap party favors like party hats and noisemakers. These can be fun for adults too who will be in the spirit at midnight.
- You can also provide your guests with nice little New Year's gifts. Make use of all that extra chocolate and candy you may have lying around from Christmas. Buy cheap, clear plastic ornament balls and fill them up with candy, or purchase small stockings to stuff with sweets. Write each guest's name on them.
- Confetti is the essential final touch of New Year's Eve. If you're hesitant about having confetti thrown around your house, then perhaps you should rethink hosting a New Year's party. You can provide confetti for your guests to throw around at midnight. (If you don't, there's a good chance several of your guests will have brought their own.). You can easily vacuum it up the next day.
Read more: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/newyearseve#ixzz3N2JPLP9N
Cooking and entertaining in a tiny apartment can be a daunting task - which is why many New Yorkers end up using their ovens to hold shoes instead of casseroles. But for those brave souls who do make do in their small kitchens, learning how to maneuver around a tight space and work within boundaries can build a unique set of skills that they can keep with them for life. We recently got a chance to pick the brain of Terri Lee, Creative Director of Great Performances, the exclusive caterer for some of New York City’s most prestigious cultural institutions including Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Sotheby’s and the Apollo Theater, about her tips for creating meals in small spaces. Read on to see what she shared with us and start using these ideas for dinner tonight!
“Kitchens are often the center of any household,” says Terri. “It’s the place where enticing smells emerge and delicious tastes are found. So naturally, we gravitate to the kitchen. When your kitchen is small and you lack the room to spread out, cooking can be frustrating and you might be less inclined to cook and more drawn to ordering out. But learning to cook or entertain in a small space is a fantastic skill-building exercise! It forces you to be organized, stay simple and start perfecting techniques to help maximize your space. Soon enough you’ll rediscover the joys of cooking. Here are a few tips to help get you started as you experiment and discover your favorite techniques for your own kitchen.”
1. Have a Kit of ESSENTIALS
We all know that you don’t need a special tool to hull strawberries or cut avocados, so leave those tools to those who live in houses with large kitchens and keep just a few key tools and spices on hand. You’ll eventually develop your own kit of essentials, but I would start with a cutting board, a sharp chef’s knife (yes, *sharp* is the key word. It’s much nicer to cook when you have a sharp knife), a saucepot and a skillet. Of course there are many more tools you might need or want. So here’s how to start figuring out what should be in your kit of essentials:
If you’re not sure what you can live with or without, sort and put items you think you might not need in a bin and store it far from the kitchen (*far* is the operative word here. You’ll actually take note when you really need something). Over the next few months, see if you keep dipping back into your “non-essentials” bin. If you keep going back to find the same tool, add it back to the essentials. You can even trade something you haven’t been using out of your essentials. Once you pare down, you’ll find that you are drawn to recipes that can be done with the tools you have and your dreams of sous vide and deep fryers will push to the wayside. Leave that for the professional chef. Although you never know…over time you might start figuring out how you can create those techniques in your small kitchen!
2. SIMPLIFY Your Menu
Part of cooking in a small space is keeping the cooking simple yet flavorful. Find ingredients that you can use for several different recipes and purchase only as much as you need. Costco is not an option for the small kitchen.
Flavor profile: Keep a small supply of your favorite go-to dry spices and seasonings. While it’s fantastic to have space for every type of vinegar, storage is prime real estate in your small kitchen and you can’t afford to spare the space. If you’re a fan of Italian, a good olive oil, oregano, and basil are key. If you love Asian, sesame oil, garlic powder and rice vinegar are your spices. If you keep to your favorite flavors you’ll use them often and you’ll likely be drawn to recipes that use those spices. You can always supplement with fresh herbs that might not last as long as the dried version, but will definitely not be sitting in your cupboard for years going unnoticed!
Cooking prep/mise en place: Look for recipes that keep your prep to a minimum or can be done in one pot. Then think of how you can “piggy back” your prep. Piggy back? It’s my way of suggesting that you find recipes that start with the same base ingredients or flavors. This way when you’re cutting onions- you can do it all at once and just set aside what you need for later (perhaps later is tomorrow’s meal!). Are you roasting root veggies for your side? Perhaps that soup or sauce calls for roasted garlic? Throw it all in the oven at the same time. The garlic will likely be ready before your root veggies and you can finish up the sauce while the veggies are roasting.
Technique control: Using different techniques also helps to keep the cooking organized. Plan recipes that don’t require the same tools or heat source. If you’re making a roast, try making a grain salad or if you’re making pasta on the stove, make some quick broiled Brussels sprouts or asparagus so everything is ready at once and you don’t have to try and keep track of two different bubbling pots.
Salt is your friend: Forget the rumor that salt is bad for you. Unless you’re licking a salt block, a little salt goes a long way and it’s the easiest way to draw the great flavors out of fresh ingredients. If you’re planning one complicated recipe, keep the rest simple. One of my favorite tricks is to create a simple broiled vegetable side. Just toss asparagus, root vegetables or Brussels sprouts in olive oil and sprinkle with a little coarse salt. Then arrange them on a sheet pan and place under a broiler for 10-15 minutes. While your chicken or roast is resting, your veggies will be browning under the broiler! If you’re using the oven for something else, then try sautéing mushrooms, turnips or leeks in a little butter with a touch of course salt sprinkled on top. Substitute sesame oil if your recipe is Asian-inspired. Keeping one item simple makes it easier for you to give love and attention to the recipe that needs it most.
3. PREP in Advance
What little things can you do each day to help you prepare and cook for future nights? Who wasn’t thrilled to discover pre-minced garlic? I love it because the prep is done, but I hate that it doesn’t have the flavor and freshness I’m craving. The solution — prep more than you need each time you’re doing the prep. Cut more onions, dice extra garlic, and mince more ginger. Whatever it is you think you’ll need tomorrow or the next night, finish the prep while your hands and knives are already deep in action. Then store the extra in small containers or Ziploc bags. Freezer bags are great for storing prepped items. Grab one medium sized Tupperware container and line the bags of prepped items. Then tomorrow when you’re ready to brown your mirepoix, you don’t need to start with a knife and cutting board — you can just toss the ingredients in a pan and start browning. If it’s a slow roast or braised meat that you’re craving, but do not have time to cook it all at once, prepping in advance is the key. Par cooking is the art of partially cooking a recipe. It helps lock in flavors and cuts your cooking time for the night you plan to serve the meal, yet locks in moisture. It’s definitely NOT the same as a reheated leftover. If you’re serving a gourmet meal and want to make each dish with love and attention, this helps break up your cooking into two parts. With just a little finish cooking, everything can be ready at once and you’ll definitely be the rock star for the night!
4. CLEAN as You Cook
I’m not sure this really needs to be stated, but when you’re cooking in a small space, clean as you cook. You’ll likely be doing this anyway since you’ll need the cutting board again or you’ll need the measuring cup or pan. Plus, your tools will be easier to clean immediately after they’ve been used. While it may seem like a chore at the moment, you’ll thank yourself at the end of the night when you only have a few dishes and glasses to clean!
5. Cocktails and MORE Food Right Before We’re About to Eat?
I know for the chef who’s been working hard to prepare dinner, it often feels counter-intuitive to set out appetizers and cocktails before you’re about to serve an entire meal. But cocktails and appetizers are always en vogue. So rather than ignore them, make them easy. Batch a cocktail recipe in a nice pitcher and set out a bar area for guests to serve themselves. You won’t need to play bartender and guess how much alcohol your guests might like and you can leave out a glass of fresh herbs (that were just used in your recipe) to garnish the drinks. Not a cocktail crowd? Fill your tub with ice and make your bathtub the bar. Saves space in your refrigerator and you can offer an assortment of beers and chilled white wines.
For the appetizers, keep it simple. Create a crudités tray or cheese board and elevate the basics with leftover ingredients from preparing the meal. Caramelized onions are a fantastic topping for a sharp cheese or with a savory jam on toast or crackers. Roast more garlic than you need and blended in a little goat cheese and set it out as a spread. Many of your ingredients can do double duty.
ORGANIZE and DECORATE:
Your guests (or date) are about to arrive and your want your place to feel magical. Just as you did with the food, it really helps if you start organizing your space days in advance.
HIDE (or better yet, REMOVE) the clutter: Start purging extra magazines, go through your mail, move the laundry.
Make OPEN space: Push tables to the perimeter. A bookcase or side table can do double duty as a spot for snacks or the bar.
Pop a SCENTED CANDLE in the bathroom: It creates a nice spa-like feel to your bathroom. If you don’t have a spot for a candle, add oil aroma sticks or a nice smelling soap or lotion.
Set out FRESH flowers: Always a nice warm touch to set the mood.
Put CANDLES in jars or small votives around the room: A subtle shift in lighting changes the way your space is perceived. Lower your regular lights or don’t turn as many on and add some mood lighting with candles or LED floral accoutrements. LEDs are great to place in colored vases to add warmth without adding a lot of brightness.
SIT back, RELAX and ENJOY your delicious meal: Can you believe you’ve done all of that in a small kitchen? You should feel proud – and hungry!
Source: renters.apartments.com ~ Author: Erica Wacker
When you live in an apartment, it can be hard to replicate the Christmas decorations you grew up with, from the Christmas village on the mantle to the lights on the bushes outside to the six-foot tree in the corner of the living room. But even if your space is small, there are lots of ways to fill it up with holiday cheer. Here’s our list of space-saving alternatives.
Instead of a Christmas tree: Hang tree-like garland from the doorways. The garland can be purchased with lights already attached; all you need to do is hang it up and plug it in. You can even add ornaments, paper snowflakes or a homemade string of popcorn. If you’re set on a tree, look for a table-size version that will fit on an existing end table or kitchen table.
Instead of a Christmas village: Why not make your very own gingerbread house? You can still put a light inside and display it on your dining table or mantle (if you have one). Plus, having decorations you can eat is even more fun.
Instead of lights outside: Hang them inside, of course! Wrap them around banisters, string them over the windows, or use them to create a “tree” on your living room wall (make sure you use tape that won’t damage the walls or have permission to use nails). You can also swap out some of your regular light bulbs with red and green ones for added effect.
Instead of decorating the mantle: Unless you’re one of the lucky ones with a fireplace in your apartment, chances are you don’t have a mantle from which to hang your stockings with care. Put up or use an existing single shelf as a makeshift mantle. To display your Christmas cards, hang them from the ceiling on a string going across the room. If you live with roommates, have each person put a stocking on their bedroom doorknob and buy each other small gifts to put in them.
Instead of presents under the tree: Wrap your existing artwork in wrapping paper and ribbon, then hang them back up on the walls. This is an easy way to add Christmas cheer to your space without taking up any additional room.
James Truslow Adams, the historian who coined the phrase “American Dream” defined it as a life that was “better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” He was clear that it was not a dream of accumulating material wealth and goods but a dream of a respectful social order and meritocracy; nowhere did he mention homeownership.
That was 1931.
Fast forward more than 80 years and the phrase “American Dream” has become synonymous with homeownership. We grow up biding our time and saving our money for that day when we can achieve our goals and beam with pride over the purchase of our very first home, complete with white picket fence and loyal pet.
But it’s the blind pursuit of this American Dream that’s resulted in such devastating consequences for so many U.S. homeowners. With that in mind, we analyze the rent vs. buy debate, hoping to shed light on the more flexible definition of the American Dream.
The Downside of Dreaming Big
More than 8 million Americans have lost their jobs since the start of the recession, and foreclosure rates are at historical highs. Many Americans are out of work, have lost their homes or have mortgages that are under water.
While this situation has improved over the past few years, many are wary about homeownership as a result of the housing bubble. In the midst of such chaos, even those of us watching from the sidelines and quietly planning for our own futures are forced to wonder: Is homeownership my American Dream?
Not So Simple
Over the last half century, buying a home in America has taken on more complexity. First, we’re a more mobile society. We move more frequently for opportunities than previous generations did, which puts us at the mercy of housing market cycles when we need to sell. Whether you have to move for work or simply want to try a new city, apartment rental may be more feasible than buying property.
Second, some American homeowners have come to view their family homes as short-term investments, temporary places to settle until the opportunity to trade-up presents itself. With that in mind, what’s the point of buying? Because so many people want to continuously grow, they could waste money by reselling a home soon after purchasing it.
Third, the huge stigma that used to be associated with owing debt in the first half of the 20th century no longer exists. As a result, we often take on much more debt than is prudent.
Fourth, government regulation and tax policies that favor homeownership have pushed us into an “ownership society” mentality without consideration for our individual circumstances.
Lastly, banks and lenders have devised more sophisticated and confusing types of loans, and they have essentially encouraged ordinary people to bet their entire future on real estate. That doesn’t seem like sound financial advice to us.
Somehow, people came to believe you could depend on home prices to appreciate and that your primary residence should be treated as an investment, like a stock or bond, rather than as a place to hang your hat and build memories.
Even the professionals sold this notion; they lent more money on new homes and encouraged consumers to take equity out of their existing homes. All of this left many American homeowners house rich and cash poor.
It’s clear now that people are seriously reconsidering the assumption that homeownership is a natural part of life. With the collapse of the housing market, many Americans are left feeling cynical about home ownership.
In a June 2009 survey commissioned by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, one third of respondents admitted to the disbelief that they will ever be able to own a home—and 42 percent of those who once purchased a home but no longer own it believe that they’ll never be able to afford to buy a home again.
Resetting Our Goals
Perhaps it’s time to rethink the American Dream. While homeownership may carry benefits for many, it might not be for everyone. Besides, you have many important factors to consider in the often overlooked rent vs. buy decision.
To learn more about how to make an educated rent vs. buy decision, read the next four articles in this five-part series. We’ll walk you through key financial considerations for both the short-term and long-term, and we’ll discuss the impact that lifestyle choices should have on your thinking.
Discover if homeownership is really a part of your American Dream, or if renting is more in line with your ideal way to live. After all, Adams’ American Dream was all about bettering oneself, and renting an apartment could be the road you take to do so.
Source: biggerpockets.com ~ Author: Sharon Vornholt
We have now officially headed into the holiday season with Thanksgiving this last week.
Traditionally many people will also begin decorating their homes for Christmas this week. I thought it was a perfect time to talk about how property owners can keep their property and their tenants safe.
Real estate investors are always concerned about safety issues where their property is concerned. But there is no better time than now as we head into the holiday season, to remind your tenants of some basic steps they can take to keep themselves and the property they live in (your property) safe. Putting up Christmas lights and holiday decorations presents you with many “opportunities” for additional liability in your rental property.
If you regularly send a newsletter to your tenants, this is a perfect topic to include in your holiday newsletter. If you don’t have a newsletter, then go ahead and mail out a “Happy Holidays” flier to each tenant reminding them that taking a few extra precautions can enhance their safety this year. Doing this will take a little time and effort on your part, but it can potentially save you big dollars and a whole lot of headaches down the road.Approximately 13,000 people go to the emergency room every year in November and December because of accidents related to holiday decorations.
Indoor Christmas LightsMost people know that indoor Christmas lights should be replaced at least every 3-4 years for safety however most of us tend to keep them a lot longer than that. Those lights have tiny wires can be easily damaged from normal use. Before you put any lights on the tree, they should be inspected for broken and cracked sockets, frayed, bare or damaged wires and loose connections. There is one safety rule you should always follow; never use more than 3 strings of lights on one extension cord as this presents a definite fire hazard.
Over the years, Christmas lights have gotten relatively inexpensive. Make it a practice to change them out every few years for fire safety reasons. Also be sure to remind your tenants to always turn off the Christmas lights when they leave the property.
Exterior Christmas LightsJust about everyone loves Christmas lights. However tenants that decorate their homes with exterior lights can expose their landlord to some serious liability. Folks rarely replace these lists as long as they are working. Exterior lights should be inspected every year the same as interior lights, and should be replaced every few years as needed.
Not only are many people injured from roof falls and shocks every year when they get up on the roof to decorate, but just walking on the roof in very cold conditions can damage the shingles. As the landlord, any liability or roof repairs will land squarely on your shoulders.
Tenants should be reminded that any extension cords used for these lights must be certified for exterior use, and they need to be plugged into GFCI protected outlets for safety reasons.
Chimneys and FireplacesIf you have a property with a wood burning fireplace, there are a few safety rules that you need to remember to follow. Be sure to have the flue cleaned annually. Creosote occurs naturally from burning wood. When it gets to be a quarter inch thick or thicker inside the chimney, it’s a fire hazard as it can ignite and cause a chimney fire.
Also, be sure to caution your tenants not to throw wrapping paper in the fireplace. Those materials tend to get very hot as they burn and they can cause flash fires.
CandlesEveryone loves candles, but they pose a serious fire risk if they are not handled properly. Most fires started by candles are a result of them being forgotten or being placed too close to something that is flammable. Just about all fires started by candles could be prevented just by using a little caution and common sense. Just give your tenants a reminder about candle safety.
Facts and FiguresThe US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has some sobering statistics I would like to pass onto everyone that has rental property.
- Christmas trees are responsible for 300 fires annually which result in 30 injuries, 10 deaths and $10,000,000 in property damage.
- Candles start about 11,600 fires annually which
result in 1200 injuries, 150 deaths and $173,000,000 in property loss.
- There are 12,500 injuries every year from roof
falls and shocks associated with the installation of exterior Christmas Lights.
Source: flipkey.com ~ by Lee Foster
Rent a house in some great vacation place that is driving distance from home. In my case, the Outer Banks is a perfect. There are hundreds of great houses for rent and North Carolina has been known to have a seventy-degree warm spell over the Thanksgiving holiday.
For the more adventurous, find a place to reach by ferry: Bald Head Island, Nantucket, Oxford or Sausalito are great choices. Having a vacation rental house in a magical place makes even the shorter holiday seem long and the memories more lasting. When we travel for Thanksgiving, we take along our traditional Thanksgiving accoutrements - special serving dishes, placemats and napkins, holiday sweaters, family recipes and, of course, a football.
In David Letterman style, I offer you my Top Ten reasons to rent a vacation house for the Thanksgiving holiday. Counting down, reason number:
10. There is Room for the Extended FamilyThere are lots of large houses available for rent and splitting the cost between the guests makes them a better deal than a hotel – plus, a hotel doesn’t offer common space for charades or pillow fights – not to mention everyone cooking their favorite food and dining as a family.
9. Houses with Fireplaces & Mountain, Lake or Ocean ViewsI live in the city, and my view is lovely, but not exactly expansive - my neighbor’s roof is eight feet away. So I love having a broad expanse of nature outside my window. I find it very relaxing - a prime goal for my holiday. I do have a fireplace at home, but it involves carrying in the wood, getting kindling started and leaving the front door open to create the right draft for the flue. Turning on a gas fireplace and watching the ocean sounds better to me.
8. Great Outside Activities at your DoorFor some of us, Thanksgiving is the last gasp of outdoor activity before clothes involving down are required. Hiking, kayaking, walking on the beach and the traditional family football game all lure me outside. Shopping in small villages at the beginning of the Christmas season is also a treat.
7. A real Bed for Everyone- No Air MattressesNotwithstanding the improvement in air mattresses, they do not compare with sleeping on a real bed. This perk also prevents a post holiday trip to the chiropractor.
6. Multiple Televisions for Football Games & the Macy’s Parade.Our family starts Thanksgiving Day with the Macy’s parade no matter how many times we have seen the giant Snoopy and the Texas marching bands. Having it on multiple screens is great. When the football games start there will be no arguments over which ones to watch. They can all be on, usually with large screen viewing. (This is time for non-fans to participate in #8.)
5. Personal Chefs AvailableOK, its not traditional, but it is possible. The property manager of your house can let you know how to contact someone to do the cooking for you. For those of you who find cooking to be the fun part of Thanksgiving, some houses have huge kitchens that let everyone cook, talk and drink in the same space. I have seen some kitchens on the Outer Banks that could be their own vacation.
4. No one has to clean his or her house for companyNo one knows that the towels are not clean and the beds are not perfectly made at your house, because – no one is coming to your house! Think of the hours saved and the “clean up your room” arguments avoided.
3. Off-Peak PricingIf you have only rented a house “in season,” then you will be astonished at how reasonable off-season rates can be at Thanksgiving. The savings can be as much as 50% for the off-peak pricing. Some houses even have additional discounts for Thanksgiving week.
2. Everyone is a GuestBeing the host can be an exhausting honor. Even when everyone shares the cooking they don’t share cleaning the house and preparing for a group sleep over. When you rent a house, everyone is a guest and no one person will be in charge of making beds, putting out towels, setting the table or cleaning up.
1. Maid Service when You LeaveHow great is not cleaning up! You just drive off at the end of the holiday. I don’t even need the other nine reasons!
Check up on the heating and insulation system
Prevent frozen pipes
Winter-proof the exterior
Prepare for the worst
Cloverland has over 30 years experience in leasing, managing and selling properties with the intent of becoming a provider of world-class service in the property management business. Our innovative business model integrates the customer service and management disciplines of the institutional property management industry at a local level. This unique approach and our commitment to hiring the very best professionals have resulted in strong business growth and our long-lasting tenure in the area, making us one of the most respected and trusted local property management companies.